Anyone who has been fortunate enough to see the Berliner Ensemble, for example, knows that a firm grasp of German is not required to catch the nuances of the performance. Volker Braun, a former member of that famous troupe, is now one of his country's leading poets; he will be among the highlights of the festival, which takes place this weekend at various venues around town. On hand will be nearly 30 poets from as far away as France, Sweden, Spain, and Norway -- reading in their own languages with translators present. Other highlights include Dacia Maraini from Italy and American beat stalwarts Joanne Kyger and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Among the younger poets, San Francisco's own Taylor Brady stands out as a promising new voice. Brady's hallucinatory prose and poems propel themselves by the "leading tone sound of vowels" to borrow a phrase from poet Robert Duncan. The resulting pieces demand amazing leaps of thought that seem to defy logic but create their own meanings, drawn from the rich stuff of memory. Brady reads Saturday night with poets from Sweden, Norway, and Germany.